Breast implants chief arrested as French detectives search homes



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.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
Arts and Entertainment
Darrell Banks’s ‘Open The Door To Your Heart’
Detective Tam Bui works for the Toronto Police force
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor winner Ben Haenow has scored his first Christmas number one
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executives - Outbound & Inbound

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'