Breast implants chief arrested as French detectives search homes
Friday 27 January 2012
The founder of the French breast implant company at the centre of a global health scare has been detained by police in the first arrests since the scandal made international headlines in December.
Jean-Claude Mas, 72, was taken into custody by Marseilles police at 7am yesterday. He was arrested as part of an ongoing investigation into allegations of "manslaughter and accidental injuries" caused by unapproved silicone breast implants produced by his company Poly Implant Prothèse (PIP).
Mr Mas was arrested at his partner's home in southern France following a house search. Prosecutors have also confirmed the arrest of Claude Couty, one of the company's senior executives. Mr Couty was taken into custody following a house search at his home in La Seyne-sur-Mer. Under French law, both men can be held in police custody for up to 48 hours before a charge is brought against them.
PIP was once among the largest producers of silicon implants in the world. But the firm, founded by Mr Mas in 1991, has been officially bankrupt since March 2010, the same month that investigators discovered that it was using a low-grade, untested silicone gel in its implants.
Mr Mas has admitted to selling the gel, made from a mix of agricultural and industrial-grade silicone. He also claimed it was safer, but admitted to hiding the product from inspectors.
Official investigations have found that PIP's gel is more likely to rupture than legally tested implants and the French government has advised the 30,000 women who have had the implants inserted to have them removed as a precautionary measure. Mr Mas has nevertheless claimed that PIP's implants pose no health risk.
Although health authorities have stressed that there is no proven link with cancer, 20 cases of the disease among French women with PIP implants have been reported, including 16 cases of breast cancer. The death of one of these women in 2010 sparked the criminal investigation into the implants' safety. Last month, it also emerged that the US Food and Drug Administration had raised concerns about PIP more than a decade ago.
The PIP gel is seven times cheaper to produce than the authorised American gel Nusil. PIP exported 80 per cent of its cheap implants to 65 countries. An estimated 400,000 to 500,000 women worldwide have bought them, including 40,000 in Britain, though the Department of Health has not told affected women to have their implants removed.
The investigation into the safety of the implants, for which Mr Mas and Mr Couty weretaken into custody, is expected to take several years. Around 2,500 women have filed complaints against PIP.
When questioned in November about the women who have filed complaints, Mr Mas is reported to have said that "the victims are only suing to get money ... I've nothing to say to them."
Earlier this year, it emerged he had been named as a "consultant" in a business plan to restart manufacturing implants at his factory site near Toulon. Those plans have now collapsed.
- 2 Moscow voted the world's unfriendliest city
- 3 The excuses your boss is most likely to believe when you call in sick
- 4 I'm pansexual – here are the five biggest misconceptions about my sexuality
- 5 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
The excuses your boss is most likely to believe when you call in sick
Bono's group has made more money from Facebook investment than from all his music
Three-year-old ultra-Orthodox Jewish children told 'the non-Jews' are 'evil' in worksheet produced by London school
Wikipedia rocked by 'rogue editors' blackmail scam targeting small businesses and celebrities
More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don’t change Europe’s attitude to refugees, what will?
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches, it's time to act
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...
£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...