FagherA cleric close to the Iranian regime says poverty in Iran has spun out of control. “On the other hand,” he added, “we see the enormous money provided to some people whose status is well known.”

Mullah Nasser Makarem Shirazi also referred to the hefty financial contracts involving actors and athletes.

He added, “Moreover, a substantial amount of money is spent out of the government budget on individuals who are described as Iranians living abroad.”

There are villages which are deprived of the most basic medical services and residents have to jump into the river to bathe, Shirazi said.

His comments were apparently targeting a state-organized “conference of Iranians abroad,” which took place last month in Tehran for the second consecutive year and was run by a close aide to the mullahs’ President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

People who attended the gathering had their expenses paid in full by the Ahmadinejad government during their three day visit to Iran.

Some observers say the so-called conference was organized by Tehran to dispel its image as an isolated regime and to spur foreign investment.

But, even members of Ahmadinejad’s own faction began to lash out at the decision and even the participants. Some said the attendees did not come to invest but instead were motivated by an all expense paid trip to the country.