It has emerged that the gang behind the £22 million Northern Bank heist in Belfast may be forced to dump more than half the cash.  

Police chiefs hunting the robbers revealed that at least £13 million of the missing money is made up in new notes.

Money-laundering experts in Britain believe it will be virtually impossible to shift this money without raising suspicions.

A senior officer said investigators were not in a position to say who had carried out the robbery or to rule out paramilitary involvement.

Earlier, the National Australia Bank, which owns the Northern Bank, said it would bear the cost of any losses as it had no external insurance policy to offset them.

Police have stepped up their search for up to 20 raiders who carried out the robbery. The gang stole the money from the bank after holding the families of two employees hostage.

Detectives are examining a car that was found burned out in a wooded area of Co Down, and which they think may have been used in the raid.

Police will also be examining closed circuit television footage from cameras around the bank headquarters as part of their investigation.