A former top government lawyer is in jail in Manila, accused of involvement in a scam to sell passports for a non-existent island nation. Barrister Stuart Mason-Parker, 50, was arrested in a hotel in Olongapo, 100km from the capital. He had allegedly been offering citizenship to the Dominion of Melchizedek. He is said to have promised a new life in the fictitious western Pacific nation, which he claimed consisted of sun-drenched islands fringed by palm trees and beaches. Mason-Parker claimed to be Melchizedek's justice minister and said jobs were available with the government and companies in the low-cost, tax-free paradise, it is alleged. Officials said Mason-Parker and his colleagues targeted Chinese and Bangladeshi immigrants as well as Filipinos in the scam, which may have begun as early as March or April. Hundreds of people were interviewed and new citizens charged about $32,500 before being sworn in, handed their passports and given travel arrangements to go to the island in the new year, it is claimed. It is alleged more than 200 people were taken in by Mason-Parker and associates including the self-styled Melchizedek president, Australian John Gillespie. Gillespie served time in an Australian jail in the late 1980s for trying to fix a race in Brisbane by dyeing a horse. Philippine immigration officials last night still wanted to interview Gillespie who they believe to be the syndicate's leader. They said Mason-Parker, held for overstaying in the country, was being 'very co-operative' about how the group worked. 'But he was practically saying he had nothing to do with it,' one official told the Post, adding that Mason-Parker had agreed to be deported to Britain at the end of investigations. About 35 Filipinos had complained to the Immigration Department that promised jobs had not materialised. The scam was uncovered when one Chinese illegal immigrant who thought he had gained Melchizedek citizenship tried to use his new passport to get a visa to the United States. US embassy staff called in the Philippine immigration department. The Chinese man said he had bought the passport from the nation's justice minister, prompting a raid on Mason-Parker's room in the Marmont Resort Hotel. Chew Chin Yee, a Malaysian who said he was the public works minister, was arrested there with three Bangladeshi applicants. Mason-Parker and Australian Dennis Oakley, allegedly the minister of the navy and coast guard, were arrested in nearby Barangay Barretto. Mason-Parker left Hong Kong more than a year ago, allegedly with considerable debts. He was a long-time Hong Kong resident and former Senior Crown Counsel who charged more than $10,000 a day after moving to the private bar.