Edwin “Ed” Hale Sr., a retired bank executive known locally for his sharp-elbowed approach to business, installed video surveillance on his 186-acre farm and still sleeps with a sawed-off shotgun by his bed.

His friends, former employees and even his own daughters were shocked to learn in his recently published biography that he had ample reason to do so: The former chief executive and chairman of Bank of Baltimore says he worked covertly for the Central Intelligence Agency for almost a decade in the 1990s and early 2000s.

During that time, he said, he spoke regularly with a CIA handler and allowed the agency to create a fake company under his corporate umbrella, which included shipping and trucking companies he ran at the same time he led the bank. Operatives in the field used the fictitious firm as cover when traveling the world, complete with business cards and hats. Mr. Hale said he worked under “nonofficial cover,” in which his identity was unassociated with the U.S. government.

In the early 1990s, Mr. Hale said, the CIA used agents posing as his employees to track Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts and gather information on the terrorist’s financing operations.

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