A committee of former Enron employees is seeking U.S. bankruptcy court approval to distribute about $24 million in severance pay from a litigation trust to 3,500 former employees of the collapsed energy trader.

James Beldner, a partner at Cooley Godward Kronish, who represents the employee committee, told Reuters on Friday that he had sued about 70 people over the years, mostly energy traders who were paid a lot of money to stay with the company before the bankruptcy, to recover funds for the employees.

Beldner said about $57 million, including the $24 million that is yet to be distributed, had been recovered so far and about 1,000 former employees had been paid in full the amounts they were owed.

A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Oct. 28.

Once the seventh-largest U.S. company, Enron filed for Chapter 11 protection from creditors in December 2001 amid an accounting scandal in which it hid billions of dollars of debt.

It emerged from bankruptcy in November 2004 and now exists mainly to sell leftover assets, pay debts and work through remaining litigation.

The bankruptcy case is In re: Enron Creditors Recovery Corp, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York, No.01-16034.

(Reporting by Santosh Nadgir in Bangalore, editing by Matthew Lewis)