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Zimbabwe authorities say foreign traders are hiding cash, worsening cash shortages

Zimbabwe's black empowerment agency says at least 90 percent of foreign shop owners don't have bank accounts and are hiding away money or smuggling it out of the country, worsening cash shortages in the troubled economy.

The agency's chief, Wilson Gwatiringa, said many of the foreign retailers lack proper identification documents required to open a bank account, leading to hundreds of million dollars staying out of the formal economy, state media reported Friday.

He said that "raises eyebrows" after government recently allowed foreign shop owners — mostly Chinese and Nigerian nationals — to continue in retail trade, a sector reserved for local blacks.

An independent financial research group last year reported that 85 percent of small businesses in the "informal economy," with a turnover of at least $7 billion, weren't paying taxes.