Rafsanjani said the country was a staggering 500,000 billion Tomans – or around 500 billion dollars – in debt, and there was ‘no money left’.

He said on Wednesday this week: “You should ask anyone who is willing to accept the responsibility of becoming president what his intentions are, and how he plans to increase employees’ salaries by 25 per cent without any resources.

“How will he handle and manage a government that owes 500,000 billion Tomans to the banks and contractors?

 “There is no money left and if there is, it is not transferable to this country. We optimistically gave our foreign currency to China and they changed it to Yuan and later said instead giving us money back, they would give us goods, but they haven’t given us any.

“We have only a small agricultural base, and we lost production last year and this year due to poisons imported from China.

“Then India bought our oil very cheaply but is not even willing to pay us with Rupees. This emerged in a bitter report following a meeting between the Minister of Commerce and the Chairman of Central Bank.”