The image of pervasive corruption can inform policy. However, there is the need to understand the context of corruption; to fully grasp the causes and patterns of corruption, it is necessary to understand the organizational realities that give rise to them. Evidence has been found suggesting that the conventional definition of corruption, the abuse of public office for private gain, does not always cleanly apply to the region because of the complex relationships between the state/public and private spheres. This phenomenon of corruption was rooted in the relations of the communist era. In the past decade, combating corruption has become a major priority of the international development community. Anti-corruption efforts in the former Soviet Union and Central and Eastern Europe could benefit from a better understanding of the context and causes of corruption. If social engineering efforts in this region of the world are to foster good governance and build independent, centrist institutions while minimizing corruption, they must take into account the organizational capacities of state and society that have emerged from past legacies. At its most basic, corruption involves a violation of trust, whether it is the public’s trust of an official or another trust, such as a physician-patient. Legacies are presented that shape the new corruption structures. In addition, an examination of certain characteristics of informal systems in the formerly communist countries clarifying the flawed conceptions of corruption and organized crime are discussed. Questions are posed that are designed to help assess these capabilities in specific contexts.