The founder of a company that made substandard breast implants has been jailed for four years.
Jean-Claude Mas of Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) was found guilty of fraud after using industrial-grade silicone in thousands of breast implants sold worldwide.
The 74-year-old, dubbed “the sorcerer’s apprentice of implants” by prosecutors, plans to appeal, according to his lawyer.
The scandal first emerged in 2010 after doctors noticed abnormally high rupture rates in PIP implants.
A global health scare erupted in 2011 with some 300,000 women in 65 countries believed to have received the faulty implants.
Mas was also ordered to pay a €75,000 (£45,638) fine and has been permanently banned from working in medical services or running a company.
Four other former PIP executives were also convicted by the court in Marseille and given lesser sentences.
During a month-long trial in April, the defendants admitted using the industrial-grade silicone but Mas, who spent eight months in pre-trial detention, denied the company’s implants posed any health risks.
More than 7,500 women have reported ruptures in the implants and in France alone 15,000 have had the PIP implants replaced.
But health officials in various countries have said they are not toxic and do not increase the risk of breast cancer.
More than 7,000 women had declared themselves civil plaintiffs in the case.
Mas, a one-time travelling salesman who got his start in the medical business by selling pharmaceuticals, founded PIP in 1991 to take advantage of the booming market for cosmetic implants.
He built the company into the third-largest global supplier of implants, but came under the spotlight when plastic surgeons began reporting an unusual number of ruptures in his products.
Health authorities later discovered he was saving millions of euros by using industrial-grade gel in 75% of the implants.
PIP’s implants were banned and the company eventually liquidated.
PIP had exported more than 80% of its implants, with about half going to Latin America, about a third to other countries in western Europe, about 10% to eastern Europe and the rest to the Middle East and Asia.