Sri Lanka's attorney-general has ordered the arrest of Thilanga Sumathipala, the cricket-board president and the chairman of Sri Lanka Telecom, for alleged passport fraud, according to newspaper reports on Saturday.

According to The Island newspaper, the attorney-general's order, issued on Thursday night, follows a criminal investigation into Sumathipala's involvement with an underworld gang leader called Dhammika Amarasinghe.

The CID investigation was prompted by a series of newspaper articles during recent weeks published by another newspaper, the Sunday Leader, which alleged that Sumathipala had helped Amarasinghe obtain a fake passport.

Sumathipala was also alleged by the newspaper, which passed on evidence to the police, to have authorised the use of cricket-board funds to help finance Amarasinghe's trip to the UK to watch the 1999 World Cup.

Sumathipala has strenously denied any involvement with Amarasinghe, claiming that the allegations are merely a cynical and malicious attempt to smear his reputation. Amarasinghe, currently being held in remand, stands accused of several contract killings and attempted assassinations, including the attempted murder of the Sunday Leader's editor Lasantha Wickramatunge in 1998.

The attorney-general's decision to issue a warrant for Sumathipala's arrest followed the receipt of a CID report last week. Detectives visited his residence at midnight on Thursday but his whereabouts remained unknown on Friday night.

Sumathipala was elected as board president for a third term in June, after winning landslide support among the member clubs that make up the board.