04/23/2014 04:41 EDT | Updated 06/23/2014 05:59 EDT

RCMP's Italian-made executive plane up for auction online

A controversial Italian-made plane ordered by former RCMP commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli a decade ago is on the auction block.

Bids start at $2.5 million for the twin-engine Piaggio 180 Avanti, according to the government of Canada's surplus website. The RCMP paid more than $8 million for the nine-seater when it made the eyebrow-raising purchase in 2002.

At the time, many mocked Zaccardelli for hand-picking the sleek-looking plane, which has the appearance of a jet even though it has two propellers.

Zaccardelli defended the purchase by saying it was "just one more aircraft" needed for RCMP operations.

In 2010, documents posted to the RCMP website showed that some of the planes in the Mounties' fleet had been used by top brass to fly to social events.

'Financial efficiencies'

RCMP spokesperson Julie Gagnon said Wednesday the force retired the Piaggio on April 1, 2014 "as part of the RCMP's efforts to realize financial efficiencies."

She told CBC News the decision was made following an "evaluation of maintenance costs and operational requirements," added that disposing of the aircraft will have a limited effect as the Mounties have other aircraft in their fleet.

The Piaggio was just one example of Zaccardelli's lavish spending while at the helm of Canada's national police force.

He also spent roughly $180,000 renovating his office. His expenses included $30,000 for leather furniture and $42,000 on his personal bathroom, as well as a remote-control-activated door, which insiders say was used to signal when Zaccardelli wanted people to leave his office.

Zaccardelli left the force in 2006 and later assumed a position with Interpol.