National Party leader John Key is being labelled an apologist for "crooks" following his comments last week about Sir Michael Fay and David Richwhite.
In Parliament New Zealand First leader Winston Peters launched a scathing attack on Mr Key and renewed a call for an inquiry into whether the investigation into the pair was undermined.
Last week's $20 million settlement with the Securities Commission came without an admission of liability, but that has not stopped politicians from attacking the pair in the House.
Mr Peters turned the focus yesterday on to the National leader, trying to paint Mr Key's comments on Hokonui Gold's Farming show last week as supporting the pair.
When asked about calls to strip Sir Michael's knighthood or the pair's New Zealand citizenships, Mr Key said, "I reckon that's a bit harsh."
But he was slightly hesitant.
"You'll always get a bit of, um, hyperbole or whatever from, from politicians as they go for it in Parliament. But, um, yeah, my, my view is, ah, they've, um taken the course that they've felt they needed to take and that's the end of the matter."
Mr Peters asked: "Does John Key really believe we would have received $20 million from Fay and Richwhite if they had done nothing wrong?"
A spokesman for Mr Key said: "All he [Key] was saying was the regulator has done a deal, and if Winston Peters has a problem, he should take that up with the regulator."
Mr Peters continued to link the settlement with the National Party and the Winebox Inquiry, which also focused on the dealings of Sir Michael and Mr Richwhite, among others.
He said an inquiry should re-examine the pair's purchase of BNZ shares in the early 1990s, then selling them the same day at three times the rate for a $100 million gain.
He called the head of the Winebox Inquiry, Sir Ronald Davison, corrupt.
"The Court of Appeal described the [BNZ transactions] as prima facie fraud. Sir Ron ... told my barrister it was grand larceny, his own words. He then ignored page after page of evidence."
Mr Peters tabled legal submissions on the BNZ deal, but these were not released to the Herald because they are considered legally sensitive by the Clerk of the House, David McGee.
It is understood the Government feels an investigation would not be justified without more information.
But Prime Minister Helen Clark was happy to oblige Mr Peters during question time. Asked if any political figures supported the innocence of Sir Michael and Mr Richwhite, she said: "That came from the leader of the National Party who not surprisingly, and consistently with [Nicky Hager's] The Hollow Men, appears to have a closed mind on the issue."