French police early Thursday arrested Jean-Claude Mas, the founder of the breast implant company at the center of an international health scare, a police source told AFP.
"Jean-Claude Mas was arrested at the home of his companion ... and taken into custody," said the source.
Mas was arrested over an investigation opened in December in the southern port of Marseille into the health implications of Poly Implant Protheses (PIP) breast implants. Police are investigating possible charges of homicide and involuntary harm.
French doctors have registered 20 cases of cancer among women fitted with the implants, 16 of whom had breast cancer, although as yet no direct causal link has been established.
Between 400,000 and 500,000 women around the world are believed to have received implants made by PIP, the now-defunct company that Mas founded in southern France.
France, Germany and the Czech Republic have recommended that the devices be removed as a precaution but Britain has said it will not follow suit.
The prostheses were withdrawn from the European market in 2010 after France's health watchdog discovered they were made from sub-standard, industrial-grade gel.
Frenchman Mas has already confirmed they were made with a non-authorized silicon gel but has rejected any suggestion that they pose a health risk.