The government's plans for a dedicated financial crimes police, whose main mission will be to fight tax evasion, were the focus of a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister George Papandreou on Thursday.

According to sources, Finance Minister George Papacon-stantinou described tax evasion as Greece's "national sport" and said that he wanted a tool that would allow him to do his job. After some debate over which ministry would be in charge of the new financial police, responsibility for this was finally assigned to the Citizens' Protection ministry, while it was decided that the 'financial public prosecutor' will be a deputy appeals court prosecutor answerable to the justice ministry.

The cabinet also decided that the period for which financial crimes can be prosecuted will begin from the time they are committed until one third of the statutory period, which is five years for misdemeanour offences and 15 years for criminal offences.

In practice, this means that misdemeanour offences can be prosecuted for a period of 20 months from when they are committed and criminal financial offences for a period of five years.