Iranian channel 1 aired a heated presidential debate on June 5, 2021. Presidential candidate Abdolnasser Hemmati, former governor of Iran's Central Bank, accused Secretary of the Expediency Council, former IRGC commander-in-chief, and presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaee of preventing Iran from accepting the FATF, which "delivered a knockout" to Iran's economy. He added that Rezaee's threat of taking American hostages in order to increase foreign currency flow into the country never materialized.
Rezaee responded that as a military man, his response to American threats is to take hostages. Rezaee went on to accuse Hemmati of collaborating with U.S. sanctions while he was at the Central Bank. He added that if he is elected president, the first thing he would do is to place Hemmati and other members of Rouhani's administration on trial, where he would prove that the "treacherous hands" of Hemmati "hurt the Iranian people so much." Hemmati responded to this by saying that if he were to become president, the first thing he would do would be to complain to another presidential hopeful, head of the Judiciary Raisi, about Rezaee for disrupting the Iranian economy. He further added that there have been accusations against Rezaee for misconduct during the Iran-Iraq war.
Another candidate, Mohsen Mehralizadeh, a former Iranian Vice President, asked in the debate how Raisi - who only completed six years of elementary school - could run the economy, with only a religious education. Alireza Zakani, a member of the Majles, said that Hemmati claims to be an economist, yet he managed to wipe out Iran's currency. Ebrahim Raisi, head of the Judiciary, also spoke about inflation in Iran.
Abdolnaser Hemmati: "Instead of blaming the Central Bank, Mr. Rezaee should kindly tell us how he plans to obtain foreign currency four our country by taking hostages. We have been waiting for him to do it for six months now. Perhaps this will improve our foreign currency flow. Mr. Rezaee, [as Secretary of] the Expediency Council, you have prevented us several times from [accepting] the FATF. Our refusal to accept the FATF delivered knockout to our country's economy."
Mohsen Mehralizadeh: "I would like to ask Mr Raisi: As far as education goes, you only completed six years [of elementary school]. Obviously, I respect your religious education, but with such education, you cannot run the economy."
Alireza Zakani: "[Hemmati] claims to be an economist. I believe that we should give him the Nobel prize for chemistry, because he managed to wipe out our country's currency."
Mohsen Rezaee: "With regards to the issue of hostages that [Hemmati] mentioned — I am a soldier. When America threatens to attack Iran, the response of someone like me is naturally to say that if your feet touch Iranian soil, we will take you hostage. Does [Hemmati] want us to kill American hostages and gain nothing? Clearly, if something like that were to happen... By bragging, we hit America on the mouth, and we do it in a manner that safeguards our human aspect.
"The fact that Mr. Hemmati is not familiar with military bragging is one thing, but the fact that he identifies with Iran's enemies is a major flaw. In his three years at the Central Bank, he completely collaborated with the American sanctions. If I become president, at the first opportunity, I will ban him and some members of the Rouhani government from leaving Iran, and I will deliver them to the courts. There, I will prove how the treacherous hands, during these gentlemen's term in office, hurt the Iranian people so much."
Hemmati: "I have always said that I have unusual respect for Mr. Raisi, but here we are rivals, and I have so say some things to acquaint the public with our worldview. I am now an ordinary citizen and a university professor, and he is the head of the judiciary. At the end of the day, there is a conflict of interest here, Mr. Raisi. Can you guarantee that when this is all over, I will not face legal procedures? After what Mr. Rezaee said about how he wants to place me on trial... Mr. Rezaee, I really don't know... There are several complaints against you about operations [in the Iran—Iraq war], and you should be thanking God that you are not facing legal procedures. I must say that you were a commander during the war, and we respect you. The military commanders are dear to our people, and so are you, but I ask you not to use such language. If I become president, I will definitely complain to Mr. Raisi about you, as one of the people who disrupted this country's economy, and brought the people's livelihood to its current state.
"I do not represent Mr. Rouhani here. I was dismissed from the Central Bank due to my disagreement with Mr. Rouhani, but I must say that Mr. Rouhani was stronger, more political, more experienced, and with better rhetorical skills than all of you. Yet, he too shared your problem: He did not have an economic perspective. That was my problem [with him]."
Ebrahim Raisi: "In this very room, in 2017, there were people who said that if yours truly won, the dollar rate would reach 5,000 toman. Yet, we saw the same people bringing the dollar rate to 30,000 toman, and they say that without them, there would be famine in the country... It is like a goalkeeper who allows 17 goals, and when he is asked why, he says that without him the team would allow 30 goals. This is not an acceptable answer for the public. There has to be a solution to the inflation."