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Founder of French breast implant firm PIP sent to prison

By Laura Smith-Spark and Sandrine Amiel, CNN
December 10, 2013 -- Updated 1348 GMT (2148 HKT)
A breast implant produced by Poly Implant Prothese, or PIP, in Marseille, France.
A breast implant produced by Poly Implant Prothese, or PIP, in Marseille, France.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Four other PIP executives receive lesser sentences at the court in Marseille
  • Jean-Claude Mas is sentenced to four years in prison for fraud
  • Mas founded Poly Implant Prothese, or PIP, which made faulty implants
  • An estimated 300,000 women in 65 countries received PIP breast implants

Paris (CNN) -- Jean-Claude Mas, the founder of a French company that made defective breast implants, has been sentenced in France to four years in prison for fraud.

Mas, who founded Poly Implant Prothese, or PIP, also must pay a 75,000 euro ($103,000) fine, according to Philippe Courtois, a lawyer representing women who had the company's implants.

Four other PIP executives tried alongside Mas at the Marseille court received lesser sentences, Courtois said.

They are Claude Couty, managing director and chief executive of the company; Hannelore Font, in charge of quality; Loïc Gossart, in charge of production; and the head of research and development, Thierry Brinon.

Mas, who denied wrongdoing in the case, was arrested in January 2012 in connection with an investigation after the 2010 cancer death of a French woman with PIP implants.

He still faces a separate trial on a charge of causing involuntary injury.

An investigation found that the company's implants contained silicone that had not been certified for that use.

2012: New dangers found in recall?

An estimated 300,000 women in 65 countries received breast implants from PIP. The implants were banned in 2010, and the company went bankrupt later that year.

The implants were not approved for use in the United States.

The French government said last year that it would pay for the removal of PIP implants for women in France.

According to the national agency for the safety of drugs and health products, more than 17,000 women in France had had their PIP implants removed between 2001 and the end of September this year.

Of the implants removed, a little more than a quarter were found to be faulty, it said.

A report published by a European Commission panel in September found "no convincing medical, toxicological or other data to justify removal of intact PIP implants as a precautionary approach."

It also found there was no reliable evidence that ruptured PIP implants create a greater health risk than a ruptured silicone breast implant from another manufacturer.

However, scientific research shows that "PIP implants produced in the period 2001-2010 have a higher probability of rupture and also of earlier rupture than other breast implants," it said.

Given this, the panel suggests it may be advisable for women with PIP implants to be offered regular assessments.

Read: Breast implant scandal: What went wrong?

CNN's Sandrine Amiel reported from Paris and Laura Smith-Spark wrote and reported in London.

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