The state prosecutor in Papeete has confirmed media reports that a corruption probe has been running since last October into the alleged misuse of public funds by French Polynesia's veteran politician, Gaston Flosse.
This comes ahead of tomorrow's planned presidential election in the territorial assembly.
Mr Flosse now again appears to command a majority after President Oscar Temaru was ousted in a no confidence vote nearly two weeks ago.
The existence of the probe was revealed to French newspapers by judicial sources in Paris just hours after the assembly in Papeete two days ago failed to elect a president for want of a quorum.
Mr Flosse is alleged to have paid monthly salaries of to US$4,000 to dozens of people who performed no measurable work for his administration, such as church leaders, journalists, union leaders and several former Miss Tahitis.
The investigation is not expected to be concluded until next year.
Mr Flosse has been repeatedly convicted for corruption but all his sentences have been quashed on appeal.