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Family of French implant maker planned new plant

Undated police mugshot of Jean-Claude Mas
Undated police mugshot of Jean-Claude Mas

By Jean-François Rosnoblet

MARSEILLE, France (Reuters) - The Frenchman who sparked a global health scare by selling sub-standard breast implants is listed as a consultant for a new protheses plant his son planned to open in June, according to a regional French newspaper.

Citing confidential company documents, the daily Nice Matin reported that Jean-Claude Mas, whose defunct company PIP sold poor quality protheses around the world for years, is listed as a technical and commercial consultant at a new firm set up by his son to make breast implants.

Mas's lawyer, Yves Haddad, could not be reached for comment on Friday.

A legal source told Reuters that Mas's son Nicolas Lucciardi, 27, had set up a firm called France Implant Technologie (FIT) on June 15 to manufacture surgical and dental materials. The source said FIT was currently "an empty shell" with no actual employees and was not operating.

FIT's memorandum of association shows that it was created with 4,000 euros of capital by Lucciardi, who is named as president, and his sister Peggy, 24, in the town of Six-Fours-les-Plages, next to La Seyne-sur-Mer. It does not list other employees or consultants.

Mas has refused all interview requests since PIP came under the global spotlight this month over its protheses, which have a higher-than-average rupture rate.

LOW-COST MARKET

His former company Poly Implant Prothese (PIP), based at La Seyne-sur-Mer, near the port of Toulon, was once the world's No. 3 maker of breast implants but it went bankrupt and shut down in March 2010 after inspectors found it was using a cheap silicone in some products that had not been approved by the authorities.

Nice Matin said FIT's business plan showed it aimed to hire two other former executives from PIP and operate from the same premises at La Seyne-sur-Mer, where PIP's buildings are shuttered but have been broken into by squatters.

It said FIT planned to start operations in June 2012, turning out 400 silicone gel prostheses per day -- a similar output to PIP -- with 20 employees and a 2 million euro investment. It said FIT would target the low-cost South American market, as well as China and Europe.

An excerpt from a document reproduced in the newspaper said FIT would produce a range of "standard, high and ultra-high" quality breast implants. "Thanks to its staff, FIT has 30 years of experience in quality materials, R&D, production and marketing of breast implants," the document read.

France ordered PIP's breast implants off the market in March 2010, but no charges have to date been filed in a case that could affect 300,000 women around the world. Legal sources say a Marseille court is likely to announce fraud charges next year.

An involuntary homicide investigation has been opened over the 2010 death from cancer of a French woman with PIP implants.

French authorities say the PIP implants carry no proven link to cancer but the government has advised that the 30,000 women in France who had them inserted now have them removed.

PIP was set up in 1991, bringing much-needed manufacturing jobs to a town hard hit by a decline in local shipyard business.

(Writing by Catherine Bremer; Editing by Jon Boyle)

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