Low taxes, supportive business environment, and even a great Pacific island climate: the Dominion of Melchizedek has it all. The only problem is that its 'government' is having problems proving it exists. Despite this, it issues passports, registers companies, has consulates and embassies worldwide, offers official jobs, has a university, and even has a Melchizedek Bar Association. Former government lawyer Stuart Mason-Parker is being held in the Philippines over allegations he was involved in a scam to sell Melchizedek passports. Banking regulators in the US and Britain have taken a dim view of the dominion's banks. The Bank of England has warned that 'you do not acquire this sort of bank for conventional business'. Melchizedek and Hong Kong have long had a relationship. In the early 1990s representatives of the dominion toured business services companies in Hong Kong trying to get them to sell Melchizedek-registered companies as well as more conventional offshore jurisdictions such as Bermuda and the Caymans. The kingdom traces itself back to the Book of Genesis in the Bible and had as its capital Jerusalem, but it then disappeared from the history books until the mid-1980s. It now claims three territories: a pie-slice shape of Antarctica; Karitane, an island in the South Pacific and the ancient kingdom of Ruthenia. One of the Hong Kong executives contacted in 1995 had Karitane checked out and was told by the French Navy it was a reef nine metres below sea level. As for Ruthenia, the ancient kingdom is now absorbed into three countries. The slice of the Antarctic is home to a scientific base. It also claims a lease on Taongi Atoll in the Marshall Islands which it wants to turn into a second Hong Kong. 'We are not a hoax, or a joke or anything less than a bona fide sovereignty that is seeking to make itself a part of the community of nations,' Vice-President and Head of the House of Elders Dr Tzemach 'Ben' David Netzer Korem said in 1995. The country's ambassador at large, His Royal Highness Prince Gerald-Dennis Sayn-Wittgenstein-Hohenstein, had at that time just been sentenced to six months in prison in Hong Kong for trying to cash two cheques drawn on Melchizedek banks. The dominion said His Royal Highness was not acting on its behalf. It has two consuls in Hong Kong, according to its Web site: Michael Chew Chin Yee, currently under arrest in Manila, and a Mwesigwa Ezra. Recent activities seem to have gravitated to cyberspace. Its on-line stock exchange allows trading of about a dozen stocks, including Hong Kong Private Bankers, described as 'a private Class A Bank chartered and licensed by the Dominion of Melchizedek since 1991'. The dominion's 24-hour operator, reachable via the Inmarsat Pacific Ocean satellite phone system, yesterday was telling callers: 'The shares are only available to citizens of the dominion. If you go to the Web site you'll see how to do that.'