March 31, 2003 12:00 PM

For Don Johnson, being stopped at the German border while driving from Switzerland last Nov. 6 was no big deal. Johnson, 53, well-known abroad for playing TV detectives on Miami Vice and Nash Bridges, was told it was just a routine check. While signing autographs for border guards, he allowed his baggage to be searched and documents he possessed to be photocopied. Eighty minutes later he and two companions were on their way again. Now, four months later, Johnson is “very upset,” says his publicist Elliot Mintz, over tabloid reports that the border check turned up the princely sum of $8 billion in cash and bonds in Johnson’s car. The tabs also speculated that he might be involved in a money-laundering scheme.

Not true, insists the actor. Indeed, “we have not labeled this case money-laundering,” says a German customs spokesman. Such an accusation “is purely a journalistic enterprise.” Nor, say officials, was there cash or bonds among the photocopied documents. As Johnson told CNN’s Larry King on March 14, “I was meeting with some American businessmen in Zurich” to seek financing for film and TV projects. “They gave me some bank statements and résumés to prove they could perform as investors.”

Though the documents are still being examined, “we have no reason to suspect anything,” the customs spokesman says. Meanwhile, the negative publicity, Johnson told King, “has caused me unbelievable grief.”

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