Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Dominion of Melchizedek

Size: 14 square miles

Small nations have often been used as tax-free havens and centers of fraud and identity theft, and the Dominion of Melchizedek, is certainly one of the more extreme examples. The upstart nation was formed in 1986 by Evan David Pedley and his son Mark Logan Pedley, both of whom have since served time in jail. Using the claim of sovereignty as a shield, for a number of years this island in the South Pacific (part of Antarctica) has operated as an offshore haven for phony banks and nearly every variety of fraud. The Dominion once issued passports for $10,000 a piece and has supposedly sold fake business licenses that were used by conmen and other swindlers to give their front companies a veneer of authenticity. The country has repeatedly been blasted as an outright sham, both by regulators and by the media (60 Minutes once profiled the DoM and was promptly sued by it), but it has yet to be shut down, and its website is still up and readily accepting applications for citizenship (for a fee, of course).

The Dominion claims to be an ecclesiastical state in the tradition of Vatican City, and lists several small cays in the south Pacific (one of which is some six feet under water) as its territory, along with a previously unclaimed part of Antarctica. The DoM has claimed that its sovereignty has been acknowledged by everything from the United Nations to the Central African Republic, but these allegations are widely considered to be false. This hasn’t stopped it from continually asserting its authenticity both online and in the media, most absurdly in 1995, when it briefly threatened France with nuclear war.

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