Bangladesh Finance Minister A M A Muhith has accused the Nobel Peace Prize winner and microfinance pioneer Muhammad Yunus of waging a "harmful campaign" against the country.
The comments came a week after the United States expressed deep concern about Dhaka's expanding role in Grameen Bank, the micro-lender founded by Yunus.
The 72-year-old "banker to the poor" - a leading anti-poverty activist with many powerful foreign supporters - was forced from the bank last year over what his supporters say is a government vendetta against him.
Earlier this month, Bangladesh's cabinet led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ordered a new probe into Yunus to check for irregularities during his time as head of the micro-credit giant.
The cabinet also approved a plan to amend Grameen Bank laws, which would give the government-appointed chairman of the bank's board control over the selection of a new managing director.
Muhith denied allegations by Yunus - who won the Nobel prize in 2006 - and the main opposition party that the move to empower the chairman would jeopardise the lender's independence.
"He has been saying that the government wants to wrest control of Grameen Bank. I have been saying from the first day that the government does not want to take over Grameen Bank and it has not done that as of now," he said.
"Mr Yunus is carrying out an unnecessary campaign. It's harmful for the country."
Yunus, who fell out with Hasina after talking about going into politics, was officially fired for exceeding the mandatory retirement age of 60. He challenged the move in the Supreme Court, but lost.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a personal friend, heaped praise on Yunus during a visit to Dhaka in May and urged Hasina's government to maintain "an environment where civil society groups operate freely".
The US last week criticised the government's move, saying it would "diminish the role the largely female borrower-shareholders play in shaping the direction of" Grameen.