Faulty implants boss is jailed
The Frenchman who sold tens of thousands of faulty silicone breast implants around the world has been jailed for fraud.
With hundreds of women looking on, a court in Marseille handed Jean-Claude Mas, the founder of Poly Implant Prothese, the maximum four-year prison sentence on the aggravated fraud charge. He was also fined 75,000 euros (£63,000).
Around 125,000 women underwent plastic surgery with PIP implants filled with industrial grade silicone and prone to leak.
And in a decision that could affect thousands of women worldwide who have sought financial reparations, the court also ruled that the German product-testing company TUeV Rheinland, which cleared PIP for certification, was also a victim of Mas's fraud.
It was not clear how the verdict affects a decision in a Toulon commercial court last month that ordered TUeV to pay damages to over 1,600 women and six distributors for the implants. TUeV denies responsibility and has promised to appeal against the commercial court ruling, which opens it to the possibility of at least 50 million euros (£42 million) in damages - about £2,500 per woman, lawyers say.
Mas has since dissolved the company. Because PIP is bankrupt, the 5,000 women who have joined a complaint against the French company are unlikely to retrieve much compensation. But TUeV, a leader in the industry which was charged with checking the quality of the implants, has deep pockets.
PIP once claimed its factory in southern France exported to more than 60 countries and was among the world's top implant makers. Government estimates show more than 42,000 women in Britain received the implants, more than 30,000 in France, 25,000 in Brazil, 16,000 in Venezuela and 15,000 in Colombia.
Sales of the implants ended in March 2010. After the first reports emerged of implants rupturing, regulators across Europe tightened oversight of medical devices.