Breast implant scandal boss arrested

January 26, 2024

business, news


The former boss of the French company at the centre of the substandard breast implant scandal has been arrested.

Jean-Claude Mas (72) and his former chief executive Claude Couty were both arrested in South-East France earlier today. Already having been charged as part of a parallel fraud case, the two are now facing the prospect of the much more serious charges of manslaughter and involuntary injury.

No copyright applies to this image, via Wikimedia Commons

Under French law both men can be held for up to 48 hours while a judge decides whether or not to charge the pair with the more serious offences. If they are charged they could be remanded in custody or freed on bail. As the case involves such a high number of alleged victims and a large number of employees, the investigation is likely to take a considerable amount of time and could run over the course of several years.

Judge Annaick Le Goff started the investigation after a civil complaint was filed by a woman whose daughter had received one of the substandard implants and subsequently died from cancer. The civil complaint now has an estimated 3,000 plaintiffs and a criminal investigation quickly followed.

Mas was the head of the now defunct Poly Implant Prothese (PIP), which was shut down by French authorities when their malpractice came to light. The company, based near Marseilles, was at one time the third biggest global supplier of silicone implants and had exported to over 60 countries.

It seems that PIP was attempting to save money by using industrial grade silicon rather than the proper medical-grade silicone. Implants made from this type of silicone appear to be more prone to rupturing, which can cause serious health problems. There are fears that the sub-standard implants could pose other potential health problems, but as this is such an unusual case there are few solid medical facts.

Thousands affected worldwide

Several national authorities have given estimates of the number of their citizens affected: the UK believes at least 42,000 have been affected; France puts the estimate at over 30,000; 25,000 in Brazil; 9,000 in Australia; and 4,000 in Italy. It is believed that the worldwide total number of women given the substandard implants could be as high as 400,000 in 65 countries. While the human cost of the problem is extremely high, the financial cost is also likely to be very significant. The cost of operations to remove or replace all the implants would be much higher than PIP’s entire sales over the course of the period they were operating.

Different countries have approached the problem in different ways. Some are offering to have all the implants removed, while others state that they want to know more about the risks before deciding whether to remove the implants that aren’t currently causing a problem.

Leaked police documents have revealed that Mas has already admitted to a significant amount of wrongdoing. He has allegedly admitted to deceiving European safety inspectors for 13 years by ordering employees to hide the industrial grade silicone they were using. The leaked documents also showed that Mas believed that the people suing him were all motivated only by money.

What kind of punishment do you think that Mas should face if found guilty? How could situations like this be avoided in future?  Share your thoughts in the comments box below.


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