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I love this painting by Henri Rousseau. He doesn't figure in this story but a guy named Rousso does but I can't find a free picture of him. Credit: WikiCommons.

Back in the mid-2000s, Bill Clinton was the spokesman for a now defunct search engine firm called Accoona.com. The company was a self-evident scam. It was founded by a French national named Marc Armand Rousso — though he used a number of aliases — who was convicted of stock fraud in France and the U.S. 

Rousso raised $100 million dollars from private and institutional investors to fund Accoona, which he claimed would rival Google, and he owned at least 14 percent of the shares.The company claimed millions of searches per day in its early marketing literature but in reality it had virtually no web traffic and within the industry was considered to be a joke.

The company went down the tubes in 2008 but not before Rousso made a killing. Bill Clinton did well for himself too. As has previously been reported, the former president made $700,000 for the Clinton Foundation in an incredibly-timed sale of effectively worthless stock shares that Rousso had given him in 2004 to represent the company.

What hasn’t been reported is who bought the stock shares from Clinton. Based on an account provided by an investigator who had access to company records, the buyer was Rousso himself, in a deal that reeks of impropriety, in its best light.

To promote Accoona, Rousso wined and dined a number of celebrities, but his most important salesman was Bill Clinton. The former president’s seal-of-approval helped legitimize the conman and his company with potential investors.

The former president was on hand for a 2004 Accoona gala affair at Tavern on the Green in New York. That’s when he received 200,000 shares of preferred stock valued at $0.68 per share, in exchange for making a short speech. He later appeared a number of times on Accoona’s behalf, including at a fundraiser for disaster relief.

But my mid-2006, Accoona was losing a fortune and it was time for Bill to cash out. With the firm hemorrhaging money his shares shouldn’t have been worth much. However, the former president was able to sell them in May for $3.50 a share, netting $700,000 for the Clinton Foundation, which refused to disclose the buyer. (It would only reveal that the transaction was handled by an unidentified securities broker.)

My source said that Rousso bought the shares himself, using a shell company to obscure his purchase. Bill and Hillary — who declined to comment on the story when it was first reported — wouldn’t disclose any details about the purchase “because it would lead to a trail of paper that they didn’t want found,” my source said.

Two months later, in July of 2006, Rousso was sentenced for money laundering and stock fraud, charges which he had pleaded guilty to seven years earlier. He received a remarkably light sentence of three years probation and a $200,000 fine.

In 2008, Accoona went under and Rousso walked off with a pile of investors’ money. He has largely disappeared since the Accoona scam. Bill Clinton is still at it.