New Delhi, February 17: The Indian banks could take a hit of at least $3 billion (Rs 17,600 crore) from loans and corporate guarantees provided to Punjab National Bank in a Rs 11,400 crore Nirav Modi’s fraud case, the Income Tax department said on Saturday. Also Read - PNB Scam: Nirav Modi Remanded in Custody by UK Court Until April 15

According to a report the income tax department informed media as of March 2017, the Punjab National Bank had extended loans and guarantees worth Rs 17,600 crore to companies tied to fraudulent jeweller Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi. Also Read - PNB Scam: UK Court Rejects Nirav Modi's Bail Plea For Fifth Time

The I-T department said that the total hit to banks “may well exceed” that amount, the officials said in its note. Also Read - Customer Alert! You Won't Get Rs 2000 Notes at Indian Bank ATMs From March 1 | Know Here Why

The whereabouts of high-profile jewellery designer Nirav Modi, whose jewellery has been also worn by Hollywood stars including Kate Winslet, is unknown. However, some TV channels claimed to trace him at the 36th-floor suite at JW Marriot’s in New York. Nirav Modi spent an entire Friday holed up in his suite, which overlooks New York’s famed Central Park.

On Saturday evening, the apex body of bankers met in Mumbai to discuss the scam.

The meeting of the Indian Banks Association (IBA) was attended by senior officials of public and private sector lenders, sources said this evening.

Interestingly, the meeting, earlier scheduled to be held at the IBA headquarters in Cuffe Parade, south Mumbai, was changed at the last moment to the SBI headquarters at Nariman Point, apparently to avoid the media.

Among those present were Allahabad Bank managing director and chief executive and also IBA chairperson Usha Ananthasubramanian, Bank of India managing director and chief executive Dinabandhu Mohapatra, ICICI Bank chief financial officer N S Kannan and IBA deputy chief executive B Rajkumar.

“The discussion centred around how to recover the money (from those involved in the fraud),” said a banker without disclosing the details.

State-owned PNB has been rocked by a USD 1.77 billion scam where billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi allegedly acquired fraudulent letters of undertakings (LoUs) from the Brady House branch in south Mumbai to secure overseas credit from other lenders.

The other banks which have or have had exposure to the fraud include State Bank of India (over USD 221 million), Allahabad Bank and Axis Bank among others. Some overseas lenders are also believed to have had exposure to the fraud.

Law enforcement agencies are on the lookout for Nirav Modi and his family and also his uncle Mehul Choksi who heads the Gitanjali Group.

The ED claims to have recovered over Rs 5,400 crore worth of diamonds and bullion from the raids on Modi’s enterprises since the scam came to light earlier this week.

Modi and his family members left the country in early January and are believed to be in New York.

The enforcement agencies have sought the Interpol help to trace the billionaire jewellery designer and bring him back to the country.

The external affairs ministry yesterday suspended with immediate effect the passports of the diamantaire and his business partner Choksi, both prime accused in the scam, for a month.

(With input from agencies)