Don Johnson Caught
With £5 Billion In Suitcase

By Catherine Armitage
China Correspondent
The Australian

Don Johnson is caught with £5bn in suitcase German customs suspect Miami Vice star of running money-laundering operation, writes Alison Chiesa...
The plot line is one that the scriptwriters of Miami Vice, the 1980s cool cop drama, would have taken pride in penning.
However, Don Johnson, the star of the show who, as Sonny Crockett, frequently broke the gangland power behind money-laundering crime, is himself now under investigation.
The actor was stopped leaving Switzerland carrying a suitcase filled with more than £5bn-worth of share certificates, cheques, credit notes, and bonds.
Johnson is suspected of running his own money-laundering operation, customs authorities in Germany, who are investigating the incident, confirmed yesterday.
No charges have been filed, but an official said tax and customs authorities in the US had been told of the discovery.
Leonhard Bierl, of the Customs Criminal Investigation Department in Cologne, said: "That wouldn't have happened unless we were suspicious about why he had all these stocks and shares and so on with him. This was a lot of numbers."
Johnson's documents were photocopied, his personal details taken and he was allowed to continue on his way. However, he was warned an official investigation could ensue.
"A decision on whether to launch a criminal probe against him will come soon," said Mr Bierl. "American authorities have been fully informed of what we found."
Johnson, 53, who had his paper fortune concealed in a suitcase as he returned from Zurich to Germany, found fame as Crockett alongside police partner Ricardo Tubbs, played by Phillip Michael Thomas, in the popular series set in the sunshine crime capital of Florida.
The actor was stopped at a roadblock two miles over the border in the town of Bietingen. He was with three other men in a black Mercedes, but the paperwork was all in the actor's suitcase. Although he was stopped in November of last year, the details emerged only yesterday.
Customs officials said Johnson introduced two of the men to officers as his investment manager and his personal assistant. The role of the third man was unclear.
A customs spokesman did not specify the nationality of the other men, but admitted that the money was in the name of several people "including Don Johnson".
The spokesman confirmed that the other men were also under suspicion of money laundering.
In recent years, German authorities have accelerated spot checks on routes leading to banking havens across its borders - including Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg - in a bid to stanch the flow of black money into undeclared accounts.
Officials said Johnson was subdued and co-operative when they asked to search his luggage. However, he became "extremely critical" as the paperwork was photocopied, page by page - a process that took several hours, with the documents subjected to intense scrutiny.
According to the customs record of the incident, Johnson "was extremely critical and worried whether American tax authorities would be informed".
Mr Bierl said the paperwork weighed "several kilos" and that each document was being carefully examined.
A customs spokesman added: "We are still awaiting information from authorities at the clearing station down where the incident happened. This is why this is taking so long."
It was reported yesterday that included in the monetary papers were large payments made out to Johnson, which included cash drawn from the Union Bank of Switzerland and the Bank of Taiwan.
When asked what he needed so many billions in paper for, Johnson allegedly replied: "I am going to buy a car."
A customs official was reported replying: "With that kind of money you could buy the factory."



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