The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Wednesday approved inquiries against former prime ministers Nawaz Sharif and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, chief ministers Shahbaz Sharif and Qaim Ali Shah, and others in separate cases.

An executive board meeting of the bureau headed by its chairman, retired Justice Javed Iqbal, approved an inquiry against Nawaz and Abbasi for allegedly awarding a 15-year contract for a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal against the rules when Abbasi was the petroleum minister in Nawaz's cabinet.

In December 2016, NAB had wrapped up an inquiry conducted for 17 months against Abbasi for his alleged role in awarding a Rs220 billion contract for the import and distribution of LNG in 2013.

The inquiry was stopped despite the fact that it had been proved that the contract had been awarded in a ‘non-transparent manner’.

“After exhaustive discussion it has been decided that it is an ongoing project and any intervention by NAB at this juncture will jeopardise the efforts of provision of LNG from the project of public/national importance. It is, therefore, decided [to close the] inquiry [at] our end,” a document available with Dawn had revealed.

The board on Wednesday also approved an inquiry against the then Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah and officials of the provincial culture and tourism department for alleged irregularities in the 2014 Sindh Cultural Festival which caused Rs127 million losses to the national exchequer.

Inquiry against Shahbaz Sharif and others was approved for alleged losses to the national exchequer caused by Chiniot-based Ramzan Sugar Mills.

Several other inquiries against Balochistan provincial ministers, officials of forestry department in Gilgit-Baltistan and others were also approved.

The press release clarified that the bureau was simply initiating investigations against the individuals and that the accused would be heard before any action is taken against them.