The debtors of Lehman Brothers, whose stunning collapse in 2008 sparked global financial panic, emerged from a record bankruptcy Tuesday in a step toward the final chapter for the once-powerful Wall Street investment bank. The liquidators running Lehman Brothers Holdings said it had exited Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and would begin repaying creditors, whose claims total about $450 billion. \"We are proud to announce Lehman\'s exit from Chapter 11 and entrance into the final stage of this process -- distributions to creditors,\" said John Suckow, Lehman\'s president and chief operating officer and also managing director of Lehman\'s restructuring advisor Alvarez & Marsal. \"Our objective remains to provide the best results possible for creditors -- by continuing to strategically position assets to produce strong values, to pursue the resolution of disputed claims and other matters in litigation, and to manage expenses in line with the asset disposition process,\" he said in a statement. Lehman said payments to creditors were to begin on April 17 as it heads toward a \"complete liquidation\" of remaining assets. In December, a US bankruptcy court judge approved plans to end Lehman\'s Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and move it toward liquidation. Its full dissolution depends on settling creditors\' claims worth around $450 billion. Lehman, the poster child of the global financial meltdown, declared bankruptcy on September 15, 2008, after its risky bets on the US housing market turned sour. The officials managing the bankruptcy have called it \"the largest and most complex in history,\" involving 7,000 legal entities in 40 countries, and 75 distinct court proceedings. Creditors continue to battle over how the payouts are made. In mid-February, Lehman\'s creditors asked a federal court to force US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to testify in a civil suit against JPMorgan\'s role in the bankruptcy. The creditors accuse JPMorgan chief Jamie Dimon and other executives of using inside information from the government and the New York Federal Reserve, then headed by Geithner, to squeeze cash out of Lehman to their bank\'s advantage in the final week before it collapsed. The Wall Street bank is now Lehman\'s single largest creditor and insists it should be repaid before any other creditor, according to the court documents.